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February 07, 2007

Teachers Not Underpaid, But Relatively Overpaid

Glad somebody said it.

FP: Your new report puts quite a hole in the teacher's unionsí constant complaint that the reason why grad rates are low is because teachers need more money and that teachers are barely scraping by.

But before we get to that, letís back up a bit.

First tell us: how much are teachers really paid?

Greene: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), public school teachers earned, on average, $34.06 per hour in 2005. That is 36% more than the average white collar worker and 11% more than the average professional specialty and technical worker, which are the categories in which the BLS places teachers. To give some examples, public school teachers are paid at a higher rate than architects, mechanical engineers, psychologists, and chemists. These earnings figures exclude benefits, such as health and retirement, which tend to be more generous for public school teachers than other workers. I should also emphasize that we did not calculate any of these earnings figures ourselves. We simply repeated information collected by the BLSí National Compensation Survey, which your readers can view themselves here.

FP: So how much do teachers get paid on an annual basis? And how much do they get paid on an annual basis if you factor in that they only work 10 months a year?

Greene: On an annual basis the average teacher in the United States is paid about $47,000 for 38 weeks of work. The equivalent for 50 weeks of work would be about $62,000.

FP: How do we address concerns about failing to count work that teachers take home?

Greene: It is certainly the case that many teachers take some work home, but that is also the case with many other professionals. The BLS survey is designed to capture all hours actually worked, both by teachers and by other workers....

I don't want to bash teachers, but with all this nonsense that they're so horribly underpaid and the most important workers in all of society, it's important to get past the NEA-pleasing rhetoric and cite the actual facts. They're not underpaid, they're quite well paid, in fact.

And as far as being the most important workers in society? That's a nice line unless you're not a teacher and keep hearing that these selfless troopers are so much more important than you are. After all, you're just doctors, lawyers, mechanics, plumbers, nurses, medics, chefs, truckers, soldiers, cops, etc.

Not doing truly important work like teachers. Why, the rest of us really aren't keeping our end up at all, are we?

They get a ridiculous number of days off during the ten months they work, only work eight hours a day, tops, and then a huge two-month long vacation. You simply have to include time off as a benefit of work -- many (though not all) people would swap such absurd time off -- to vacation, spend with the family, pursue a hobby, build an addition -- for a chunk of their salary.'

As NEA critics have noted -- teachers want all the job-security and plush government benefits that civil servants enjoy, but want to be paid as if they're professionals in a cut-throat, 70-hour-a-week-plus profession like the law.

Well, no shit-- who wouldn't want such a thing? But whether the public is required to indulge such a fantasy lifestyle is another question entirely.

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posted by Ace at 05:03 PM

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